November 24, 2021, Chu Chua, BC - Simpcw First Nation (Simpcw) and Interfor Corporation (Interfor) have announced the completion of a landmark agreement for Simpcw to acquire forest tenure under two forest licences in the Kamloops Timber Supply Area.
The agree̓ment also provides for the development of a stewardship agreement within Simpcwúlecw (Simpcw Territory) in connection with Interfor’s operations that will facilitate joint stewardship of the tmicw (land) and resources and a long-term business relationship.
The Province of British Columbia has approved the transaction under the Bill 22 Forest Amendment Act process which requires that all tenure transfers be approved by the minister. This agreement is precedent-setting in Simpcwúl̓ ecw, and demonstrates the positive results that come from Indigenous Nations and industry pursuing relationships based on mutual respect:
“This is part of the shift that needs to happen,” said Shelly Loring, Chief of Simpcw. “Redistributing forest tenures to Title holders and creating solid relationships with licencees provides for collaborative strategic planning and management of the resources in a way that recognizes and respects our mutual rights, values and interests.”
“This tenure transfer reflects Interfor’s support for ongoing progress on reconciliation in British Columbia,” said Stuart Card, Interfor’s Chief Forester. “We are proud to play a role in supporting the growth of the Simpcw First Nation’s Forest operations and look forward to continuing to work together in a spirit of partnership.”
Simpcw and Interfor have been engaged in discussions since 2019, when Canfor announced its agreement to sell $60 million in forestry assets in Simpcw Territory to Interfor. This followed Canfor’s announcement of the permanent closure of its nearby sawmill in Vavenby. “We were heavily engaged with Canfor, Interfor and the Province throughout the Bill 22 approval process,” explained Chief Loring. “We’ve worked extremely hard to reach common ground with Interfor and the result will see tenure in our hands, and long-term economic opportunities and benefits to our Community, People and to the North Thompson valley.” As for the Province, Chief Loring said Simpcw recognizes the role it played in facilitating this transaction but noted that there is a long way to go to fulfill the Province’s commitments to reconciliation.
Simpcw holds numerous tenures in its Territory through its economic development corporation, Simpcw Resources LLP (SRLLP). “We continue to grow and demonstrate successful and sustainable timber harvesting,” said George Lampreau, Councillor of Simpcw. “We manage our forest resources differently – it’s not just about making money but ensuring our tmicw (land) and resources are preserved for our future generations.”